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“Day Without a Gay” supporters [17 December, 2008]

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In the wake of Proposition 8 in California, gay groups across the country urged people to take a day off from work by calling in “gay for a day” and refusing to spend any of their dollars contributing to the economy.  They chose December 10, which is also International Human Rights Day.

In Chicago, approximately a hundred demonstrators showed up outside City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle, to participate in the event.  In a rapidly worsening economy, taking time off appears to be a luxury few can afford.  Most of the demonstrators were students with flexible schedules, worked for their own businesses, or had gay or gay-friendly bosses who supported them.  Aaron was a rare exception in that he didn’t have a flexible job; he works as a barback and happened to have a day off.  Would he have faced repercussions if he’d called in gay? Yes, “and I don’t care.”  Maggie, passing out flyers to passersby, felt she was making a point: “This helps bring attention to our cause, to our fight for gay marriage rights.”

After 20 minutes of marching and chanting, demonstrators went into the Cook County Clerk’s office and stood outside the office while a few gay male couples talked to the clerks in charge of dispensing licenses.  They asked for marriage licenses but their demands were not met (the state of Illinois does not recognize same-sex marriages) .  Brett Holman Gomez said that he and his partner Luis Gomez “were asked if we were both of the same sex.  We said yes, and they declined to give us our marriage licenses.  We said, ‘David Orr [Cook County Clerk] : Marry us now; we will pay your fine.  Do something historic now!’”

Originally published in Windy City Times, 17 December, 2008

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